Potted plants that love the heat

In this unusual heatwave we’ve had, most of my big leafed plants have sulked in the shade, but none have died (yet). 110 degrees with no humidity is rough on most plants. I can see 50 foot tall trees in my neighborhood that look wilted and sad, so I think that if I can keep most of my plants alive through this broiler cycle I’ll count it as a win.

Some of my plants actually like the hot, arid conditions we’re having. The cactus, agaves, succulents and other desert plants, of course!

Echinopsis pachanoi has been growing faster than I ever thought cacti could grow. I think sometimes that I can actually see it getting taller in front of me. Seriously.

Last year while I was across the ocean, this little San Pedro cactus pair grew several inches each. You can see the nice green thicker tops, compared to the wrinkled lower sections. Those long spines marked the end of last summer’s growth.
January to March of 2017 saw even more nice growth. Wider and greener, with tiny spines.
echinopsis pachanoi
Much bigger now! You can see a few scars from a bad sunburn, about two months ago. If I can manage to keep them from getting sunburned now, they’ll be as tough as they’ll ever need to be.
The San Pedro twins have now become sextuplets. I’m not sure why the cactus on the right has put out 4 pups, while the other hasn’t shown any indication that it will pup at all. What you see here is basically 4 months of growth! In another year or two, these two will be taller than my house… maybe 3 years.
So I’m a little bit guilty of pulling a “Myspace angle” on this cactus… google it if you aren’t familiar with the term. Still, it has grown 4 inches since I planted it in May. I think it’s a San Pedro, but I’m not sure. To the left of the alleged E pachanoi is my old Euphorbia milii that came to live in the greenhouse at the same time.

Usually a volunteer plant means weeds. My favorite volunteer plant(s) was, or I guess still is, a pair of Euphorbia milii that showed up in a Schizobasis intricata that I brought home from Portland Nursery. I still have both the Euphorbia and Schizobasis, and they both live happily in the raised bed inside the greenhouse. They both have grown like crazy this year. I don’t know why I didn’t get a real greenhouse earlier. If anybody out there has a lawn, do yourself a favor and get rid of it to make way for a greenhouse.

If you don’t pay attention to the clover covering the greenhouse floor, you can see the Euphorbia milii centered in the shot, looking better than it ever has. In the foreground is a group of blue-green Caesalpinia pulcherrima seedlings, an Aloe striata, and a rather fast growing Acacia dealbata (it has doubled in size in 2 months).

These plants have lived in pots most of their existence, but I’m doing my best to stay focused today on those that are still in pots.

Aloe ‘Rooikappie’ is doing incredibly well. It grows as fast as I ever want an aloe to grow, and pups readily. I’ve divided my original pot from last fall into 4 separate plants, and I think I could probably divide each one again before the year is up. They aren’t small plants, either.

New pups show up at a fairly regular rate.
Some of the newly divided clumps look a little sparse, but they have been filling in quickly with those hearty, toothy leaves.
aloe rooikappie
The flowers on Rooikappie are very nice. They show up all year when the weather is good. Rooikappie (pronounced roy-copy) is South African for what we would say here in the US as “red hood”.

Euphorbia lactea ‘White Ghost’ is a cactus look-alike that I picked up in July at the Oregon Cactus and Succulent Society annual sale. It may end up being planted in the greenhouse, but at this point I’m not sure.

euphorbia lactea white ghost
The section of new growth with the red/pink tinge to it is what has shown up in the last few weeks since I bought it.

Carnegiea gigantea is a plant that I’ve always wanted, but never fully committed to getting. Buying a mature specimen is out of the question, because of price and rarity. Germinating seeds would be economical and totally possible, as they are readily available on the internet. They grow large, but at such a slow pace that I will be retired before it becomes majestic.  It just so happened that I found one for sale this spring, at a very reasonable price. The best part about it was that it was already 14 years old! I figured that I would regret it if I didn’t bring it home with me.

carnegiea gigantea top
New growth comes out a bright red!
carnegiea gigantea
Even when small, saguaros are very attractive plants.

Boophone disticha is another plant that I’ve wanted for a long time, but never saw for sale. A few years ago, I visited Grassy Knoll Plants where I saw a black nursery pot with a few suspicious strap leaves popping out. It turns out that the owner had come up with some B disticha seeds directly from Africa, and germinated them a few months before I came along. I gladly bought the pot, which contained 7 plants. One of them ended up dying over the first winter, and I traded another seedling for some other plants. I still have 5 of them left, and they seem to be doing well. Apparently it takes a decade for them to get big enough to flower, so I’ll have to be patient for a while longer.

boophone disticha
After 3 years, they have gotten big enough to start looking like something besides grass.
boophone and trichocereus and echinopsis
They love the sun and the heat! Without direct sunlight, they get a little leggy and the leaves end up falling over.

This past winter saw me yearning for warmer weather (maybe I shouldn’t have yearned so hard) and I bought a little pot of Echinopsis chamaecereus to propagate up. So far it has been growing at a fast clip, and I have probably double the amount of this cactus that I started with.

echinopsis chamaecereus large
With this recent heatwave, some of the tops of the peanut cactus have turned a shade of purple.
echinopsis chamaecereus small
This small pot began with 3 stems or arms, this spring. I’m guessing that by this time next year the pots will be overflowing.
agave vilmoriniana
A little water has collected in the center of an Agave vilmoriniana. I ended up with a bunch of these as pups, and now I have more than I know what to do with.

Most of my plants are relatively harmless. Some (ok… plenty of them) look dangerous, but really aren’t that bad. One plant, however, is truly vicious. Hechtia argentea is beautiful to look at, and deadly to try to repot. Or water. Or fertilize.  Really, it’s just a plant that should be viewed from a short distance. I’ve received more injuries from this thing than any of my other plants. Possibly combined.

hechtia argentea
Each one of the hooked spines lining the leaves of H argentea is razor sharp, hard as a needle, and doesn’t hesitate to puncture and slice anything that touches it. Excellent.
romneya coulteri
I had Romneya coulteri in my previous garden. It started out small, and stayed small until I sold the house and moved away. Now, it’s huge. I have similar expectations for this one, but I hope to stay here longer!
uknown torch aloe
An unknown torch aloe. This one didn’t have a name, and the person I bought it from had no idea. It supposedly pups like mad, and gets very bushy.

The rock wall at the front of the house has responded favorably to all this nice desert weather as well, but it’s really hot outside and I don’t have pictures of it yet. We’ll have to wait and see what’s changed up there until next time.

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